The next day, I am again waiting for The Child to get ready, after sleeping in. I don’t mind too much, and though I long to show her the hotel waffle maker, she longs to sleep in, so I let her. We both slept well at the hotel the first night, but less well each night that followed, and it’s far easier to let her sleep into the morning than it would be to change hotels.
I wander outside, deciding to take some photos of the hotel for the online review I will eventually write. I start with the pool.
One of the two boys I met at breakfast sees me, the younger one, and comes over to talk. He asks me if I can unlock the pool, but since he’s a bit young to be swimming alone, and I am reluctant to supervise, I try to explain that he needs to get an adult, maybe his mother, to open the gate with her room key.
He tells me again, the pool is locked, and I tell him, I can’t open it, and finally he manages to get across to me that it isn’t just locked to him, it’s locked to everyone. They are doing maintenance. Maybe someone will open it later.
He’s waiting for that someone, in the parking lot, wearing his swim trunks, hotel towel slung over his shoulder.
When The Child was little, she loved the hotel pools too, and waited eagerly for us to take her there, but she hasn’t used this one since the night we arrived.
Do you live here? the boy wants to know.
My family lives here, I tell him. I’m visiting them for a week.
What room are they in? he asks.
Oh, they live in the town, I say, pointing past the pool. Over that way.
Where do you live then?
I live in Seattle, I tell him, but I can tell by the look on his face that he doesn’t understand what that means. It’s near the Pacific Ocean, do you know where that is?
He still doesn’t understand, and as I’m trying to think of a good way to explain it to him, he demands: Do you have a house or not?
Yes, I reply.
He sits on the asphalt, towel on his lap, and begins picking at a piece of tar. It comes loose, and he peels it up.
Whose house is it? He wants to know.
My house, I explain.
He furrows his brow, regarding me carefully. Are you a landlord?
No, it’s my house and I own it and live in it.
He is perplexed. I ask where he lives.
We used to live with my mom’s friend but she kicked us out. So now we’re staying here.
His older brother approaches: Do you want to walk the cat?
I head back to my hotel room, but the card key doesn’t work, so I get a replacement at the front desk, and as I walk back to my room I see the boy, walking a large orange cat around a barren parking lot, toward the pool he can’t swim in right now, but maybe later.